Friday, I ran my first Blessing of the Fleet. As discussed earlier, by the time race day came, I was very excited to run. I decided to drive down to registration on my lunch break at 2pm, and pick up my bib early. I was surprised at how many people were already there four hours before the start. I picked up a hot coffee - it was raining and only 67 degrees! - and pumped some old NOFX in my car as I returned to my office. Based on my conversations with Justin, I had prepared some extra food to eat a couple of hours before the start. But in a rookie move, I opted not to eat, since I wasn't remotely hungry at this time (and probably just buzzing off coffee and my Pandora radio station). Finally(!!), it was time to head down to the race, and in another rookie move, I had "figured out" a back way in and a "good" place to park. Well, it took me forever to get there, and while stuck in traffic Justin called and said he parked right at the start (and right next to my brother and his girlfriend). Upon parking, I finished a small Gatorade, grabbed a water, and "warmed up" to the start (.75 miles). I found Justin, Greg, Jen, Heather, and Marc hanging out and was really happy that I could enjoy some pre-race laughs and company. Justin wanted to warm up and I joined him, and we quickly met up with Chad and all ran together. At the start line, my stomach started to rumble and I realized that I usually ate dinner at that time - 6pm! I was regretting not eating a little earlier at my office. Now I know.
The race itself was fun too. I tried to not go too fast the first mile, as I often do, and clocked in at 6:31. I then settled in to my pace and ran fairly consistent miles the rest of the way. I was surprised, and a little disheartened, at how many people were passing me during miles 2 and 3. After that, the passing evened out - I reeled a few people in, and I would also be occasionally embarrassed by some teenage kid flying by me (why were they so far back??). I found myself taking water - one sip and then pouring the rest over my back. The guy with the hose was a nice touch too. At mile five, besides seeing BoJo, it began to rain. It felt good! At mile six, it began to pour!! To me it was quite a novelty sloshing through this monsoon. The roads quickly became streams, and my Nike Run Free's didn't feel so free anymore. My body felt fresh, but I figured my pace would suffer. At mile eight, the rain had stopped, and the streets were filling up with cheering spectators, helping me along. I picked up the pace for the last mile and finished up on my watch in 70:58, a time I was happy with, and as Justin noted, a PR!
My splits (9 & 10 combined): 6:31/7:17/7:00/7:07/7:11/7:17/7:10/7:11/14:11(for 2)
Post race, I met up with Greg and Justin, watched our friends finish, and headed over to the beer tent with Greg and Jen for our free cold one Justin kept talking about. We were very disappointed to find out they were charging runners $4 for beer this year, and so we slogged off to the bus back to the parking lot. There we found Justin again, and the four of us went to Casey's for a post race dinner and celebration.